Former NI Civil Service head to take peace charity role

Sir Malcolm McKibbin is to join the board of Co-operation Ireland after five years as top civil servant in Northern Ireland

Sir Malcolm McKibbin takes up his new position on 26 September. Credit: NICS

By Tamsin Rutter

18 Aug 2017

The former head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Malcolm McKibbin, has been appointed to the board of Co-operation Ireland, a peace-building charity that promotes dialogue and collaboration between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

He takes up his post on 26 September.

McKibbin was the most senior civil servant in Northern Ireland from 2011 to June 2017, when he stepped down and was succeeded by interim head David Sterling, former finance permanent secretary.


Under McKibbin the Northern Ireland civil service, which is a separate organisation to the UK civil service, reduced in size by 17% and the number of government departments fell from 12 to nine.

Initially announcing a departure date in January, he decided to defer his retirement from the civil service for several months due to political deadlock in the country – a breakdown in the power-sharing arrangement between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party.

McKibbin took a central role in mediation efforts, chairing the Stormont talks, the negotiations to strike a deal between the two parties and restore a power-sharing government.

On his new role, McKibbin said: “I think the work of Co-operation Ireland is crucial at this stage, especially given the challenges that both Brexit and the current stalemate at Stormont present across the island of Ireland and between the UK and Ireland.”

Christopher Moran, the charity’s chair, said: “As Co-operation Ireland continues to play a leading role in the development and sustaining of Anglo-Irish relations, as well nurturing cross-community relations within Northern Ireland and building confidence and linkages across the island of Ireland; it is important that we are able to avail of the expertise of Sir Malcolm in order to provide continued strategic direction for the organisation.”

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